- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 25, 2014

President Obama gave an economic boost to his hometown of Chicago Tuesday — and even a plug for a local beer — with the announcement of a federally funded manufacturing hub to be headquartered in the city.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Obama’s former chief of staff, was in the audience at the White House as the president announced the creation of the center in Chicago and another in Canton, Mich., to boost high-tech manufacturing. The Chicago hub will receive $70 million for a Pentagon-led institute that focuses on high-tech digital manufacturing and design.

Mr. Obama seemed eager to dispel any suspicions that hometown favoritism might have played a role in awarding Chicago one of the manufacturing centers.

“Keep in mind this is a consortium of more than 40 companies, 23 universities, labs like Northwestern and the University of Illinois and nearly 200 small businesses,” Mr. Obama said. “A number of other states are participating in this consortium.”

He said in addition to the federal money, the state of Illinois and businesses “raised $250 million in private funding commitments to help win this bid and make it happen.”

The hub will be headquartered near downtown Chicago on Goose Island, Mr. Obama said, “where there’s a very superior beer.”

“A little hometown plug there,” the president said. “Feel free to use that, Goose Island.”

In making the announcement, Mr. Obama was fulfilling a year-old pledge with the creation of the two Pentagon-led institutes that will combine public and private resources to foster manufacturing innovation.

The institute in Michigan will focus on light metal manufacturing.

The manufacturing hubs are being started with an overall federal infusion of $200 million. Mr. Obama announced the first hub in January, an Energy Department-led project in Raleigh, N.C., with another in Youngstown, Ohio.

The institutes will bring together businesses, federal agencies and universities to develop technologies that can boost manufacturing.

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